State seeks interim stay on decision of Kerala HC on Oct. 19, allowing AAI to let Adani take over “operation, management and development” of the airport.
The Kerala government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court against the Centre’s “illegal” move to hand over the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to the Adani group.The State government, represented by advocate C.K. Sasi, sought an interim stay on a decision of the Kerala High Court on October 19, allowing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to let Adani Enterprises Limited take over the “operation, management and development” of the airport.The State said the preference given by the Centre to a private concessionaire like Adani, which has no experience in the field of managing airports, smacks of arbitrariness.The High Court favoured the handover of a vital facility to a private entity though it was not in the interest of better management of the airport. The entire proceeding, including the tender process, was in violation of the provisions of the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994, the State said.The concession was given to the Adani group despite a proposal from the Kerala government to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to run the airport on a revenue-sharing basis, the appeal said.The Chief Minister had even offered to take up the project at the rate on a par with what was quoted by the Adani company, it said.The appeal said the State had given the AAI land free of cost for airport construction on the assurance that it would be involved in the forming of an SPV. This was a “legitimate expectation”, it said.CM’s letter“The Chief Minister, on November 21, 2018, wrote to the Civil Aviation Minister, informing that the State Government has been actively associated in transferring land to the AAI, without having any legal obligation to do so, on the explicit understanding that Kerala would be associated by forming an SPV whenever the AAI felt the need to transfer the management of the airport to any entity”, the State argued.It said it had experience in running airports through its various organisations.“The Kochi International Airport at Nedumbasserry, Ernakulam, Kerala, which is being operated by Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), a State government sponsored company, is one of the leading airports world over”, the appeal said.The State also referred to the Kannur International Airport. “This airport has the most modern and state of the art aviation, other passenger and cargo facilities. It is being operated by the Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL), another State -government-sponsored company, and has become operational and making steadfast progress”, the appeal said.